Triple double, triple threat

Massinburg, Harris and Caruthers prove invaluable in win over Le Moyne

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Senior guard CJ Massinburg led a second-half rally Wednesday night with UB basketball’s second triple-double in school history, to help No.17-ranked Buffalo earn an 89-55 win over the Le Moyne Dolphins.

Massinburg was one third of Buffalo’s triangle threat against the Division II Dolphins, alongside fellow senior-star Bulls, guard Dontay Caruthers and forward Jeremy Harris. Caruthers earned the first player-of-the-game honors with 20 points and 5 assists; with Massinburg taking an impromptu second honor for his historic 13 point, 10 assists and 13 rebounds. 

“I’ve been close to a [triple-double before],” Massinburg said. “I can get the rebounds and the points, but it’s hard to get the assist.”

Harris continued his recent hot streak from Ireland going 4-of-5 from three and finishing with 16 points and 7 rebounds.

The Bulls (8-0) led in rebounds, assists, steals, field goals and free-throw percentage, in what was a game they were expected to dominate. Buffalo had a quiet night from three, being out-shot from behind the arc 12-to-5. The Bulls did most of their work in the second, outscoring Le Moyne (5-4) 52-18.

“I thought it was night and day from first half to second half,” said head coach Nate Oats. “I thought our defensive effort stunk in the first half. … I thought we came out in the second half as a much mature group of guys.” 

The Bulls started by smothering the Dolphins’ offense and forcing steals. Buffalo’s shooting was not as sharp, with less than 50 percent, making it a 7-2 game a little under five minutes in. Some sloppy Buffalo passes and turnovers led to UB misses and a Dolphins comeback. 

Both teams exchanged the lead, with Le Moyne finding more success from three. Graduate student guard Tyree Chambers led the charge going 2-of-3 from three. The teams were tied 23-23 with 7:41 remaining in the first.

Following some bad free-throw shooting from the Dolphins, Harris made his first three of the game to make it 28-28. After another Harris putback, the Bulls had a 30-28 lead with less than five minutes in the first. But Le Moyne’s perimeter shooting tied the game 34-34 with about 90 seconds in the half. After a Le Moyne three, Buffalo found itself down 37-34 with 39 seconds in the first.

This happened against a Division II team.

“We never look down on a D2 or D3 team, but you can tell our step wasn’t there,” Caruthers said.

Harris came in with a corner three to end the half and make it 37-37. Harris finished the half with 8 points, going 2-of-2 from three and 4 rebounds. Massinburg was threatening a double-double with 7 points and 9 rebounds at the half. The Dolphins went 8-of-12 from the perimeter, with Le Moyne junior guard Zay Jennings leading the game in scoring with 11. 

Junior guard Davonta Jordan opened the half with a quick layup, then drove the ball in for a one-handed slam after a fast break to make it 42-37. After a Perkins layup and some back-and-forth basketball, Jennings made a three to make it 44-42. The Bulls picked up their largest lead of seven with 14:59 remaining.

Massinburg made a layup with 12:48 remaining to make it 55-45 Buffalo. 

From there, Buffalo was out for blood. It took the Bulls three and a half minutes to make it a 66-49 lead. 90 seconds later, Buffalo was up 74-49. With four minutes left in the half, the Dolphins still had 49 points.

Caruthers’ ability to finish at the rim, Massinburg’s overall play and Harris on the perimeter made it so Le Moyne couldn’t last as the final ten minutes rolled on. Caruthers was deadeye accurate in the paint going 7-of-8 from the court and 6-of-7 on free throws. 

The Bulls play next on Saturday in an away game against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (4-5), with tip off set for 4 p.m.

Thomas Zafonte is the senior sports editor and can be reached at: thomas.zafonte@ubspectrum.com